아프가니스탄의 종족 집단들이 특정 지역에 밀집 거주하고 있으므로 영토 분할이 간단하고 그에 따른 경계선 유지도 쉬울 것이다. 제국의 식민지 관리들이 민족의 정체성과 역사적 뿌리를 고려하지 않고 다른 민족들을 함께 뭉쳐 놓은 지금의 국가 경계선이 안고 있는 불안
요인도 더 많이 해소될 것이다.
아프가니스탄에서는 또한 언어의 단층선을 따라 민족들이 갈라진다. 파슈툰어 사용 집단과 보다 널리 사용되는 페르시아어 방언인 다리어 사용 집단이 대립한다. 파슈툰어를 사용하지 않는 인구가 국민의 절반을 넘는다. 즉 타지크, 우즈베크, 하자라 부족의 인구만도 전체의 50%에 육박한다.
자국 역사상 가장 오랜 전쟁을 아프가니스탄에서 치른 미국은 전쟁 피로증과 재정난에 시달린다. 아프가니스탄 대통령 하미드 카르자이와 미국이 공동으로 추진하는 탈레반과의 거래 시작으로 인해 파슈툰 이외 민족들이 심각한 불안을 느끼고 있다. 그들은 탈레반의 5년 통치 기간 동안 가장 큰 피해를 입은 민족들이다. 예를 들어서 오랜 박해의 역사를 겪은 하자라 족은 몇 차례 대규모 대량 학살을 당했다.
카르자이가 비 파슈툰계 부족 지도자들과 정치적 동맹관계를 끊은 조치도 민족들의 분열에 일조하고 있다. 현재 비 파슈툰계 부족들의 대부분은 정부에 반대하는 국민전선에 참여하고 있다. 이런 부족 지도자들은 탈레반을 포함하는 권력분할 협정을 받아들일 가능성이 희박하다. 그들은 카르자이가 파슈툰 주도의 통일국가를 복원하지 않을까 의심한다.
아프가니스탄의 이런 민족 갈등과 차별로 인해 다민족으로 구성된 신생 아프가니스탄 군대
의 단결이 깨질 가능성이 지금 가장 심각한 문제로 떠오른다. 현재의 내분은 1989년 옛소련군의 아프가니스탄 철군 직후 나타난 분열과 비슷하다. 당시의 분열로 내전이 촉발되었고 최종 승자인 탈레반이 수도인 카불을 점령하여 정권을 세웠다. 브라마 첼라니 印 전략지정학자
Afghanistan's looming partition
By Brahma Chellaney
The United States, still mired in a protracted Afghan war that has exacted a staggering cost in blood and treasure, has agreed to formal peace talks with the Taliban, its main battlefield opponent. With the Obama administration already reducing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan after almost 12 years of fighting, the talks in Doha, Qatar, are largely intended to allow it to do so "honorably."
How the end of U.S.-led combat operations shapes Afghanistan's future will affect the security of countries nearby and beyond. Here the most important question is whether the fate of Afghanistan, which was created as a buffer between czarist Russia and British India, will be - or should be - different from that of Iraq and Libya (two other imperial creations where the United States has intervened militarily in recent years).
Foreign military intervention can effect regime change, but it evidently cannot re-establish order based on centralized government. Iraq has been partitioned in all but name into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions, while Libya seems headed toward a similar tripartite, tribal-based territorial arrangement. In Afghanistan, too, an Iraq-style "soft" partition may be the best possible outcome.
Afghanistan's large ethnic-minority groups already enjoy de facto autonomy, which they secured after their Northern Alliance played a central role in the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed virtual self-rule since then, they will fiercely resist falling back under the sway of the Pashtuns, who ruled the country for most of its history.
For their part, the Pashtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not be content with control of a rump Afghanistan consisting of its current eastern and southeastern provinces. They will eventually seek integration with fellow Pushtuns in Pakistan, across the British-drawn Durand Line - a border that Afghanistan has never recognized. The demand for a "Greater Pashtunistan" would then challenge the territorial integrity of Pakistan (itself another artificial imperial construct).
The fact that Afghanistan's ethnic groups are concentrated in distinct geographical zones simplifies partition and makes the resulting borders more likely to last, unlike those drawn by colonial officials, who invented countries with no national identity or historical roots, lumping together disparate ethnic groups. Afghanistan's ethnic divide also runs along a linguistic fault line, with the Pashto language of the Pashtuns pitted against the more widely spoken Dari (a Persian dialect). Indeed, both geographically and demographically, Afghanistan's non-Pashtun groups account for more than half of the country, with Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras alone making up close to 50 percent of the population.
After waging the longest war in its history, at a cost of tens of thousands of lives and nearly $1 trillion, the United States is combat-weary and financially strapped. The American effort, pursued in coordination with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to cut a deal with the Pashtun-based, Pakistan-backed Taliban is stirring deep unease among the non-Pashtun groups, which suffered greatly under the Taliban and its five-year rule. (The historically persecuted Hazaras, for example, suffered several large-scale massacres.)
The rupture of Mr. Karzai's political alliance with non-Pashtun leaders has also aided ethnic polarization. Some non-Pashtun power brokers continue to support Mr. Karzai, but most others now lead the opposition National Front.
These leaders are unlikely to accept any power-sharing arrangement that includes the Taliban. In fact, they suspect that Mr. Karzai's ultimate goal is to restore Pashtun dominance throughout Afghanistan.
Their misgivings have been strengthened by the "Peace Process Road Map to 2015," a document prepared by the Karzai-constituted Afghan High Peace Council that sketches several potential concessions to the Taliban and Pakistan, ranging from the Taliban's recognition as a political party to a role for Pakistan in Afghanistan's internal affairs. The road map dangles the carrot of Cabinet posts and provincial governorships to prominent Taliban figures.
The most serious problem today is that the country's ethnic tensions and recriminations threaten to undermine the cohesion of the fledgling, multi-ethnic Afghan army. Indeed, the splits today resemble those that occurred when Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, an exit that led to civil war and the Taliban's eventual capture of the capital, Kabul.
This time, the non-Pashtun communities are better armed and prepared to defend their interests after the U.S. withdrawal. Thus, in seeking to co-opt the Taliban, the United States is not only bestowing legitimacy on a thuggish militia, it also risks unwittingly reigniting Afghanistan's ethnic strife, which would most likely tear apart the country for good.
This raises a fundamental question: Is Afghanistan's territorial unity really essential for regional or international security?
To be sure, the sanctity of existing borders has become a powerful norm in world politics. Yet this norm has permitted the emergence of ungovernable and unmanageable states, whose internal wars spill across international boundaries, fueling regional tensions and insecurity.
With a war-exhausted United States having run out of patience, outside forces are in no position to prevent Afghanistan's partition along Iraqi or post-Yugoslav lines, with the bloodiest battles expected to rage over control of ethnically mixed strategic areas, including Kabul. In this scenario, Pakistani generals, instead of continuing to sponsor Afghan Pashtun militant groups such as the Taliban and their allies such as the Haqqani network, would be compelled to fend off a potentially grave threat to Pakistan's unity.
A weak, partitioned Afghanistan may not be a desirable outcome, but a "soft" partition now would be far better than a "hard" partition later, after years of chaos and bloodletting - and infinitely better than the medieval Taliban's return to power and a fresh reign of terror. Indeed, partition may be the only way to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into large-scale civil war and thwart transnational terrorists from re-establishing a base of operations amid the rubble.